Here’s something that most of us have thought about at one time or another, and that’s whether you should eat more on leg day.
Whenever you train legs you know you’re in for a session of torture.
There’s not many of us who don’t leave the gym either limping or barely able to walk.
Plus, no matter how well you eat, you typically always still feel hungry.
So, should you succumb to your hunger and eat more whenever you train legs?
Let’s find out.
Should I Eat More on Leg Day?
It makes a lot of sense to eat more on leg day as you’re training the largest muscle group, which usually requires the most energy. Taking on additional calories can improve your performance, recovery, and muscle growth. Additionally, if you have a “cheat” day, leg day may be the perfect opportunity to take this. Even if you’re in a cutting phase it makes sense to incorporate a refeed day. It’s best to take this on the day that you’re exerting the most energy and burning the most calories. Plus, if you’re carb-cycling, leg day is perfect for a higher carb day.
1. You’re Burning More Calories on Leg Day
For me, it’s a no-brainer.
Yes, you should eat more on leg day.
You’re working the largest muscle group in the body, so you’re going to burn a ton of calories.
Additionally, the metabolic surge you’ll experience from training your legs will burn even more calories.
Furthermore, a big exercise like barbell squats, will also be extremely taxing on the Central Nervous System.
You can also say the same for the exercises where you’re pushing a huge amount of weight, e.g. leg press, hack squat, etc.
Basically, if you don’t eat enough on leg day you’re going to feel depleted of energy and probably very tired too.
You must have noticed this yourself too.
Following your leg training session you could literally eat anything and everything.
In fact, you’ve probably never felt as hungry.
And literally as soon as you come within an inch of food you devour every morsel within seconds.
Plus, you’ll notice that even though you’ve eaten the same as “chest day”, or shoulder day”, or even a massive conditioning day, you’re still hungry.
This all comes down to the huge amount of calories you burn when you train legs.
2. Eating More On Leg Day Can Produce Better Results
Now, I’ve just spoken of the impact that training legs has on calorie burn and your Central Nervous System.
Plus, I’ve also mentioned that not eating enough will leave you tired and lacking energy.
This is clearly not how you want to feel when you’re training intensely on a regular basis.
So, in effect, eating more on leg day will actually help to improve your performance, recovery, and your muscle growth.
It’s not unheard-of to eat before, during, and straight after a big leg day.
In fact, you could be hindering your performance by trying to train legs on an empty stomach.
You definitely won’t hit your workout with as much intensity, and your strength is also likely to suffer.
This is why many people choose to train legs in the afternoon or evening.
Plus, it also makes a great deal of sense to consume a good percentage of your daily carb intake pre-workout.
Obviously, you don’t want to eat a massive meal, so all your energy goes towards digesting your food.
However, a meal that includes oats, brown/wild rice, sweet potato, or high-fibre fruits should do the job.
You may even find that it makes a great deal of sense to consume a protein shake during your leg workout.
Plus, within an hour of performing your last set you should be eating a high protein meal with carbs to replenish your glycogen stores, and some healthy fats
There’s a lot of eating to do on leg day.
Eating For Leg Day
3. You Can “Get Away” With More on a Heavy Leg Day
If you’re looking to build muscle then you need to take on additional calories.
This will typically mean that you’re looking to consume a lot of lean and healthy foods.
However, when it comes to eating “clean” you can often run into problems.
Basically, depending on your daily calorie intake you could spend much of the day feeling full.
But, you still may not be able to hit your daily calorie count.
As an example you may choose to eat a meal that consists of two large chicken breasts, sweet potato, and broccoli.
You follow this up with a handful of nuts.
Sounds great in principle, and you’ll definitely feel well satiated.
However, the fact that you may need to eat the same type of meal another 3 times just to get your calories in can feel pretty daunting.
You know after a meal like this you’re going to feel full for a good few hours.
This is actually why many pro-bodybuilders turn to junk foods to ensure they get their calories.
With that being said, they will often do this straight after their workout.
Essentially, you can get away with a lot more after a very heavy and intense strength-training session.
Now, I wouldn’t suggest that you start chowing down on McDonald’s and KFC regularly.
However, if you’re going to have a cheat day or a cheat meal then I would suggest that leg day would be the ideal time.
4. Have a Refeed Day If You’re on a Cut
Taking another leaf out of the pro-bodybuilder book you could look to have a refeed day if you’re in a cutting phase.
When you are on a cut you’ll generally restrict calories.
The aim here is to reduce body fat, perhaps lose some weight, while getting leaner and preserving the muscle mass that you hopefully grew during your bulk.
However, you are still training regularly, but possibly not with as much intensity.
Unfortunately, the cutting phase can have negative consequences in terms of your energy levels.
So, quite often bodybuilders will introduce a refeed day.
This is a day when they take a break from the calorie-controlled diet.
The aim here is to overeat, but in a controlled manner, and there’s usually a heavier focus on consuming carbs.
This would fit in perfectly with the day that you decide to train legs.
You could be worried about the impact a refeed day has.
So, when better to introduce a refeed on the day when you’re working the largest muscles and burning the most calories.
Refeeds and Diet Breaks
5. Carb-Cycle to Incorporate Leg Day
Carb-Cycling is typically used to lose weight, burn body fat, while maintaining your physical performance.
So, you would generally “cycle” between high-carb days, low-carb days, and even no-carb days.
If you have a no-carb day you shouldn’t really be doing anything too physically demanding, so this would usually be your gym rest day.
Even on low-carb days, if you are exercising, you will need to be wary of the intensity with which you train.
However, your high-carb days are when you can potentially train with maximum intensity.
So, if you happen to be carb-cycling, or are considering it, the days you train legs are perfect to incorporate your high-carb days.
So, as you can see, it makes a great deal of sense to eat more on leg day.
In fact, I actively encourage it.
You will be training the largest muscle group and therefore burning a huge number of calories.
This calorie-burn is increased due to the metabolic effect of training legs.
Plus, taking on more calories will improve your overall performance, help recovery and muscle growth.
You can also incorporate additional calorie consumption on leg days even if you’re on a calorie-controlled diet.
Basically, you’re able to “get away” with consuming more calories on leg day.
While I’m on the subject of training legs, here’s what I have to say about whether you should do deadlifts at the end of your workout.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.